For the past year, when I haven’t been writing up restaurants, chefs, and food event profiles here at Dishing the 'Ham, I’ve been working on a book about the history of food and restaurants in Birmingham. From our early days as a boom town, with a restaurant culture made up of cafes and hotel dining, to our current scene of local- and seasonal-ingredient inspired chefs, both in fine dining and more casual spots, I traced the path Birmingham’s food has taken and how we’ve arrived to be one of America’s next hot food destination cities.
Along the way I uncovered a few secrets about Birmingham food, such as where the delicious hot dog topping known as “hot beef” originated and how big a role luck had in the success of one of the most popular barbecue joints in town. But I also affirmed my belief that Birmingham chefs and the farmers who help fill our plates are not only some of the hardest working people around but also some of the most gracious and creative, no surprise there.
Published by The History Press and Arcadia Publishing, Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu, is available through the publisher, on Amazon, and soon through local bookstores, gift shops, and more. The Alabama Booksmith has also commissioned a special hardcover edition of the book, which is full of beautiful portraits and food photography from many talented Birmingham photographers, and will be available at the official book launch party on August 11th from 5-7 pm at their store. Rojo, Jim 'N Nick's and (hopefully) a few more places will be providing bites for the event as well. I’ll be there to sign your copies, too.